My wife and I recently purchased a minivan. For those of you without children, minivans are moderately-sized vehicles with large sliding doors which provide easy access to things such as groceries, screaming one-year-olds, and strollers roughly the size of lunar landers. Minivans are easy to spot in their natural habitats. Just look for bumper stickers proclaiming their occupants to be honor roll students or advertising that they have recently visited a theme park in the Orlando, Florida area.
Minivans are equally easy to obtain. To finance a minivan, simply respond to one of those handy emails from the exiled assistant finance minister from the Ivory Coast. With the 50 percent of the 2 million dollars culled from your successful business transaction, you’ll be hitting the road with your new wheels faster than you can fax your social security number and two valid forms of picture I.D.!
Since my wife does most of the child-toting, I inherited her car, a Saturn sedan. Generally, I don’t have any gripes about my new vehicle. It’s low in gas mileage, it has ample cup holders for the Dunkin’ Donuts beverage of my choice, and it gets me safely to and from the ever-popular destinations, point A and point B.
There was one glaring oversight by the engineers at Saturn who designed this vehicle. In the heat of the moment, it is impossible to find and activate the horn in a timely and properly educational fashion.
I see the horn not as an alert system, but rather as an educational tool. Being a strong believer in classical conditioning, I maintain that, collectively, motorists can employ their horns to improve overall highway behavior. By taking a conditioned stimulus from all of the good drivers (our horns) we can ‘educate’ unskilled motorists into a conditioned response, i.e. not being flaming idiots.
The buttons for the horn on the Saturn are terribly small. I say buttons because there is not one, but two horn buttons placed where I would assume one’s thumbs would rest at the bottom of the steering wheel if you were inclined to steer the car in the most uncomfortable fashion humanely possible. As if the engineers thought, “They still can’t reach the horn properly in an emergency, but if we double the number of buttons that just may pacify them!” Invariably, when a horn-appropriate situation pops up, I scramble to find the horn only to fail miserably.
This leaves me with two equally unattractive options: Sound an after-the-fact horn, which would only confuse the other driver and not make him feel inferior as was its intent, or let it pass entirely, which we all know is deeply deeply unsatisfying. Letting a horn-appropriate moment pass is like finding out at your high school reunion that the slutty girl secretly had a crush on you senior year.
Almost, but not quite, as bad is the fact that the horn sort of makes a friendly clown-car-type noise when honked. If my horn could personify a Golden Girl it would definitely be a Rose. I desperately want it be a Dorothy, deep, loud, and highly unsettling.
My contention is that all horns should be large, red, buttons with personalized sayings inscribed upon them such as, “I beg to differ,” or more aptly, “Moron.” This way, we can all work more efficiently towards a day when motorists will no longer sit through an entire green light talking on their cell phones, or back up with reckless abandon in the parking lot at Stop & Shop.